The idea of having an extravagant wedding is hindering many of Filipinos in their desire to get married, a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a couple dreaming to spend the rest of their lives with each other.
Engaged couple Abraham Matthias Gnüchtel and Kathryn Raña are planning to spend around R200,000, the average price tag of wedding ceremonies nowadays.
The two decided to finally tie the knot after almost three years of being in a relationship. They first met in the church where they both attend service. Raña said theirs is a “whirlwind” love story.
“[One day,] he gave me a ring showing his real intentions for me. It’s like everything is going so fast between us, but I believe that it is the Lord at work, since I have a serene and peaceful feeling deep inside me,” said Raña.
Their wedding preparation includes the venue, catering, gown, ring, photography, and most specially, the number of wedding guests.
Raña revealed that her gown alone cost her P50,000 while their rings amounted to P30,000. They expect to spend around P45,000 for wedding entourage and P30,000 for the photography to document the entire wedding ceremony.
Additional expenses include the flower arrangement, invitations, souvenirs, and other requirements which total to around P30,000.
Gnüchtel and Raña said fortunately the expenses for the choir and wedding singers will be shouldered by their friends.
According to Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, couples who plan to marry don’t have to spend a lot, because some traditional wedding trappings are not really needed.
“Brides and grooms are allowed to wear anything they want, as long as it is decent and clean,” Cruz said, citing that the outfits as examples.
The prelate, who also serves as the judicial vicar of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines - National Appellate Matrimonial Tribunal (CBCP-NAMT), underscored that “it is very simple if couples really want to marry… [This is] what the Church is saying: traje de boda, coat and tie, reception, party, flowers, choir, picture taking, doves, and others are not a requisite in order to receive the sacrament of matrimony.”
Cruz also said the Catholic Church offers free weddings once or twice a month to those who can’t afford the costs of traditional ceremonies. They lend arras or wedding coins, veil, cord, and even rings to the marrying couples.
Meanwhile, Word for All Nations Associate Pastor George Pilotin Jr. said Born Again Christian weddings need not be costly.
“In weddings, what couples usually want is to present [the occasion] well, which is why there are people who spend more. However, we should not be concentrating on the amount, but more on the effect and essence of the wedding,” said Pilotin, who represents the perspective of Born Again Christians.
Cruz and Pilotin shared that only two witnesses are enough to execute a wedding.
“It might be good for couples [to have a lot of invitees] but guests don’t really have to be many,” said Pilotin.
For Gnüchtel and Raña, a wedding is a once in a lifetime event that ought to be very special, just like what most people want.
But Pilotin said, “There is no problem if they want an extravagant wedding. What’s important here is that the couples should look and take care of their relationship.”
Recent nationwide Truth Survey conducted by Radio Veritas showed that more than 50 percent of married Filipino Catholics are not married in the church.
Another study conducted by the National Statistics Office (NSO) data revealed that there were 482,480 registered marriages in the country recorded in 2010. It was fewer by two percent (9,774) compared to 2009’s figure.
Catholic ceremonies accounted for 35 percent of marriages, other religious weddings account for 20.7 percent, while civil accounted for 43.5 percent of the total number of weddings.
Civil weddings are conducted in a venue—usually the city hall court—with the presence of an authorized judge.
NSO data also showed that February is the favorite month for wedding with a daily average of 1,909 marriages.
“Our wedding will be just like the typical wedding… We also have arras, cord and veil,” said Raña noting that they also included the relevant symbolisms of the traditional ceremony.
Wedding for Born Again Christians is almost the same as that for Catholics; only, some of the symbolisms in the marriage are not really necessary. However some of the couples still prefer to follow the usual wedding ceremony, where there is a presence of the materials used to represent their binding contract.
As for going on “separate ways,” Cruz said the Catholic Church has different means, including the “Canonical Separation, which will allow the couple to live separately, since they already cannot agree with one-another. However, they are not allowed to get married again.”
Another is the Marriage Nullity, which Cruz emphasized that “from the very beginning, the marriage has not taken effect due to reasons like insanity, fraud, blood relation and if it is against the will of the marrying party.”
As for the Born Again Christians, Pilotin mentioned that married couples should only be separated legally or through annulment.
“The process [of separation] will still go through our courts because civil laws are followed,” said Pilotin.
However, Pilotin pointed out that similar to Catholic Church, couples who are legally separated cannot marry again. Only those who have had their marriage annulled by the courts can marry again.
To address this issue of separation, Cruz said that the Catholic Church should come up with more effective catechesis on marriage and improve the pre-Cana (counseling before marriage), Cana (preaching about marriage on the occasion of the wedding), and post-Cana (counseling after marriage) conferences.
For soon-to-wed Gnüchtel and Raña, the couple believed that their relationship will be successful since God will be the center of their marriage.
“Searching for a reason why God led me to Manila, I found it when I met her. Kathryn could be defined as the answer to all my prayers,” said Gnüchtel.
“I prayed to God that I’ll never get into any relationship unless it is [God’s] will and [my fiancé is] a true Christian not by words, but by the way he lives. Truly, God also answered my prayer,” said Raña.
By the end of the year, the two will exchange their vows in what they call as an “affordable wedding ceremony”.
Cruz said weddings, by itself, are cheap, and that it only becomes expensive because couples would like to add embellishments.
“The sacrament of matrimony only needs a woman [who accepts] that she will be the wife of the man [and vice versa], that is marriage. Other details are just add-ons and are not needed for the sacrament to transpire,” said Cruz.
“[People] should always remember that in wedding, love is the only thing binding the couples—their love for one another and specially their love for God,” said Pilotin.
By CARLOS DAVE B. GARCIA